Rafa Benitez has given a very interesting interview in the Mail today and he talks about just how difficult the Championship is, with all the games the clubs have to play and there’s simply not enough time for the players to recover.
And as we found out last season, it is also a lot more competitive than it was seven years ago when we were last down there after being relegated.
Clubs being relegated from the Premier League these days, like Sunderland as one example, will find it very difficult to get automatically promoted and come straight back up as in years gone by.
A smiling and relaxed Rafa Benitez in his Benton office
Looks like St. James Park is sold out behind him – what again!
In fact, only Burnley and now Newcastle United have managed to do that in an automatic proportion place in the last six Championship seasons – and Newcastle were again promoted as Champions.
This is some of what Rafa has said and this piece is about just how difficult it is down below these days:
“It is more difficult than people think.” “The competition and the physicality of the game allows the other team to balance and neutralize you.”
“You play against teams that you know are not better than you, but physically they are stronger and they are very competitive.”
“Every free-kick and every corner is a 50-50 situation and anything can happen.”
“The other one is you play too many games.”
“Sometimes two games a week, three games in 10 days, and then you don’t have time to recover physically and mentally.”
“Mentally it is very demanding. It has been very hard in terms of football but it has been very easy in terms of putting everything behind the team: the city, the fans, the players, the staff.”
One way to put last season is that it was “brutal” and while we expected to get promoted and even win the Championship fairly easily that didn’t happen.
We reached those two very tough goals, but it most certainly want not easy.
And it was more to do with how competitive the other clubs were rather than any real weaknesses in the Newcastle side.
Rafa built a whole new team to get automatically promoted and now he has done that he is busy building a new team for the Premier League that can hopefully finish in the top ten next season.
If Rafa can do that then it will be only the third time in 11 years that we have finished in the upper half of the Premier League under owner Mike Ashley.
We owe Newcastle’s comeback and rejuvenation as a club over the last 15 months entirely to Rafa Benitez and we are hoping he will be backed 100% by owner Mike Ashley.
If that happens then we are certainly on our way.